Massachusetts Elementary School Principals' Association
MESPA Monday Memo
March 27, 2017
Congratulation to 2017 Passios Outstanding Principal Award Winner  
 Chris Getchell
Principal of the Parkview Elementary School in Easton
We are pleased to announce that Christopher Getchell, Principal of the Parkview Elementary School in Easton, has been selected as the winner of this year’s Thomas C. Passios Outstanding Principal Award.  The award was presented by Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester at the annual MESPA Spring Conference on March 22, 2017.   Chris will go on to represent Massachusetts in the National Distinguished Principal Program, which is sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).  

Chris has served as principal of the Parkview Elementary for 7 years and has a total of 18 years of experience in public education.  He began his career as a teacher and Assistant Principal in the Stoughton Public Schools before moving to Sharon to serve as K-5 Math Coordinator and Assistant Principal.  In 2010, he was appointed principal in Easton.  Chris holds a BA in Psychology from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, an M.Ed. in School Administration from Cambridge College. He is currently pursuing a CAGS in Educational Leadership at Bridgewater State University.  

In his letter of nomination, Superintendent Andrew Keough states, “I have never worked with a school leader like Chris before. He is without a doubt the finest building leader I have encountered due to his stellar work ethic and unyielding love for young people. He has the rare ability to see young people individually, as truly gifted beings who deserve the best he can give them…He makes the learning environment at Parkview School warm, welcoming and inclusive.” 

Among Chris’s accomplishments at Parkview are:
  • Developing a school constitution each year with students.
  • Creating a school garden used by students to learn about the life cycle, protecting the environment and the value of sustainability. Chris also arranged for the creation of a school track to encourage daily exercise.
  • Establishing a Response to Intervention (RTI) program that relies on formative assessment data.
  • Beginning an Ability Awareness Day that brings parents and community members into the school to teach students about physical, emotional and intellectual challenges.
  • Collaborating with Bridgewater State University to offer a STEAM After School Club.
  • Mentoring other principals in Easton.
Superintendent Keough wrote, "Chris Getchell is not only a dedicated educator, but most importantly, he is someone who values children of all backgrounds and will go to great lengths to serve them. It is a characteristic that cannot be taught and one that separates the outstanding school leader from others."

The Passios Award
The Thomas C. Passios Outstanding Principal Award was established in 1979 to honor the memory of an outstanding school leader, who has demonstrated clear leadership in developing successful programs for children and teachers, exceptional dedication to education, outstanding professionalism and an unselfish attitude toward helping others. The award is sponsored jointly by MESPA, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Fitchburg State University Alumni Association.  

Thank you to the selection committee, which was chaired by Eileen Wood (a past Passios winner) and included: Ron Colbert (Fitchburg State Alumni Association), Matt Holloway (DESE), and past Passios winners Jill Flanders, David Keim & Tom LaValley

From The MESPA Blog:
Look for the Good: All of Our Successes Are Shared Successes  
by Christopher Getchell
Principal of Parkview Elementary School, Easton

This week’s blog features Chris Getchell’s Passios Award acceptance speech – a must read for any principal.  Chris reminds us that one of the best things about being an educator is that all of our successes are shared successes.  He quotes his mentor, who advised him in his first year as an assistant principal to “Look for the good.”   He also noted the legacy of Thomas C. Passios, after whom our award is named, as a principal who cared deeply for children and respected his staff.

To read Chris’s speech, go to the MESPA blog at:

From the Executive Director:
Spring Conference Highlights
Last week’s Spring Conference was deemed a success by many of the more than 175 school leaders who attended. Participants enjoyed the bright new venue at Devens Common Center and were well cared for by MESPA's dynamic duo, Brenda Elmes and Vickie Ellison, as well as by the outstanding staff at DCC and our generous sponsors.   Some highlights:
  • A rich array of 21 workshop sessions offered by a mix of principals, teacher teams, and consultants.
  • Greetings from Ireland: Sean Cottrell and Damian White of the Irish Primary Principal Network gave us a glimpse into the culture of their successful organization.  They reminded us of the importance of principal support groups: “Our agenda is that we don’t have an agenda. You come with a problem and you leave with a solution”

Our three keynote speakers offered words of inspiration each in their own voice. 

Todd Nesloney,
Co-author of “Kids Deserve It!”

Todd captivated the large audience at Thursday’s main keynote for two hours.  A current principal in a high-poverty school in Texas, Todd shared an amazing mix of ideas and videos for inspiring both kids and staff.  He likened work in schools to mission work, reminding us we can wake up and be angry – or we can wake up and choose to make a difference.   His parting question: “Who will you inspire?”  Todd certainly inspired all who attended. I highly recommend scrolling through #MESPAchat for Thursday, March 23 to get a sampling of his ideas.  Or visit the Kids Deserve It website. 

Kelly Pollitt
NAESP’s Chief Policy Strategist

Kelly made a strong case for why the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides an opportunity to build capacity and empower principal leadership.  She urged principals to become familiar with law and to play an active role in the development of their district’s ESSA plan.   For a resource on ESSA, go to:  Those who attended came away with a new appreciation of how NAESP works on behalf of principals at the federal level.

Rob Evans,
Psychologist &
Author of "The Human Side of Change." 

Long-time friend of MESPA, Rob Evans, closed out our conference with his classic blend of wisdom, common sense and humor.   He reminded us of the reasons we tend to be resistant to change.  People need to know the why of change as well as the what and the how He also spoke of the importance of taking care of ourselves, suggesting that we take time each week to: 1. Think about what we have done well.  2. Give ourselves credit for what we did. 

Conference Notes Available To read notes from all three keynotes, as well as many of the sessions, go to:  Or scroll through the posts on Twitter at #Mespachat.

Rick Rogers